Ohio State Linebackers Coach Al Washington Turns Down Defensive Coordinator Offer from Tennessee to Stay with Buckeyes

By Dan Hope on February 11, 2021 at 6:50 pm
Al Washington

Al Washington is staying with the Buckeyes.

According to multiple reports, Washington turned down an offer to become Tennessee's defensive coordinator on Thursday and will stay at Ohio State for a third season as the Buckeyes' linebackers coach.

After a few days of silence on social media, Washington all but confirmed he is staying by sending several Ohio State-themed tweets on Friday morning.

Washington's decision was first reported by 247Sports. Lettermen Row's Austin Ward reported Thursday that “a raise and new responsibility as the run-game coordinator was already in the works” for Washington, though Ohio State has not yet announced a new title for Washington.

Following the retirement of former co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, Washington is now set to coach Ohio State's entire linebacker unit in 2021. If he is promoted to run game coordinator, he'll be second in command on Ohio State's defensive coaching staff behind defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, though defensive line coach Larry Johnson and recently promoted secondary coach Matt Barnes will also be integrally involved in the Buckeyes' defensive game planning.

Washington, now 36, has never previously been a coordinator in his coaching career, but was reportedly offered $1.5 million – nearly three times the $515,000 he made at Ohio State in 2020 – to become the defensive coordinator at Tennessee. Ultimately, however, Washington decided he should stay at Ohio State rather than joining a Tennessee program that is going through a coaching staff transition after Jeremy Pruitt was fired for committing NCAA recruiting violations.

While Ryan Day previously said on Feb. 3 that Ohio State would not have a co-defensive coordinator this year, he did say Washington would take on a bigger role this year following Mattison's departure.

“Al's going to take on an added responsibility,” Day said. “I think Al Washington's done a really good job with those linebackers.”

Washington's decision to stay at Ohio State is crucial not only to maintain continuity in the linebacker room, but also for the Buckeyes' recruiting efforts, as he has been one of their aces on the trail. 

In addition to Washington's status as Ohio State's only returning linebackers coach from last season, he has always been one of the Buckeyes' aces on the recruiting trail, making it increasingly important for them to keep him in the fold. Washington is currently ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 recruiter among all assistant coaches for the class of 2022, having led the way in landing commitments from linebackers Gabe Powers, C.J. Hicks and Dasan McCullough as well as offensive tackle Tegra Tshabola.

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